NEW YORK — U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday night outlined his plan for the establishment of a chemical weapons mission with about 100 technical specialists, administrators and security officers to destroy Syria’s nerve agent program, marking the first time that the United Nations has carried out such a task in the midst of a civil war.
The team, to be made up of U.N. political and security officers as well as technical experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, will set up its staging area in Cyprus, maintaining only “a light footprint” in Syria, Ban said in a 10-page letter to the U.N. Security Council. Its mission will be to destroy the Syrian chemical program — including more than 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, agents and precursors — by June 30.
The U.N. plan, which will require approval by the Security Council, is designed to implement an agreement on Syria’s chemical weapons that was brokered by the United States and Russia and endorsed by the council and the OPCW’s executive board. The United Nations has sent an advance team of 35 to Damascus to begin dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons program; the team is using “cutting torches and angle grinders to destroy or disable” some “missile warheads, aerial bombs and mixing and filling equipment,” Ban said.